The antics of Luis Suarez on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Anfield have generated much brouhaha in the footballing world. Commentators on the game – ranging from ex-players to newspapers to various fan forums have been forthcoming and fulsome in their opinions on Suarez biting Chelsea’s defender Branislav Ivanovic.
Some have been downright critical on the Uruguayan suggesting he should never again adorn the Liverpool shirt while others have been moderate on their counsel, prescribing just a fine and lengthy ban. One thing stands clear – pundits have unequivocally agreed on the culpability of Suarez regarding his bizarre act.
Strangely a section of commentators have heaped scorn on Suarez and suggested that despite his near-indispensable performances this season (and in past seasons), Liverpool should take a firm statement and dispose off Suarez to keep their image intact and also earn some good amount of cash in the process.
The moral high ground that can be gained by not allowing Suarez to turn out for Liverpool will be completely lost if Liverpool let him go for a price, this will only be construed as a money-making ploy for the club. If any other club, and by any other I mean prestigious and successful outfit, can let Luis Suarez play despite his past actions then why should Liverpool be the only team deemed to act on this situation?
People who call for Liverpool to show an example of a moral code seem to forget that these things are already things of the past when ideals used to be the guiding principle of a football club.
History is rife with instances where jingoism and a certain level of racism in the operation of football clubs have been passed off as ‘morally’ correct, but such logic does not hold much water when football clubs are essentially business units and Liverpool happens to be one of the many business units of John Henry above anything else.
So pure business interests should justify the value of Suarez to the club – and it seems to be on the favourable side given his contribution to the club.
The secondary matter is the nature of the ‘crime’ – did it lead to a grievous bodily harm or did it have any insinuations that portray any section of the human kind in a lesser light?
Clearly, seen on the impact side of things, Suarez committed something which does not really call for an extraordinarily long time away from the game. Sure, the laws of the FA would take its own course but ideally this should command a lesser degree of punishment than that for a racially charged offence.
To that end, despite the rarity and bizarre nature of the foul, the Liverpool establishment would do good to assess the impact of Luis Suarez’s actions. His contribution to the club has been second to none this season – and it’s best for the club to censure him in the form of fines and let the law of the governing body take its own course.
Misdemeanors of greater nature – Eric Cantona’s kung-fu kick or Mario Balotelli’s act of throwing darts at a youth team player have not really prompted them being banned by their clubs for lifetime.
Public memory in football is short – and the image of a club does not really depend on sporadic brutal acts of their players. Suarez, in a world of logic and reason, should stay with Liverpool given his appeal with the wider football audience and his unflinching on-pitch commitment to the club.
Just imagine an alternative world where Suarez did not bite Ivanovic and went on to score the equalizer in the dying moments of the game – he would have been celebrated in the press.
This despite his past offences of biting a player (Otman Bakkal, in his Ajax days) and of using racist language. Just serves to show the collective knickers of the press can go for a twist to generate maximum mileage out of an incident and the moral compass of people lampooning and criticizing Luis Suarez does not really indicate a holier-than-thou picture!